CHICAGO, IL – Castleton, NY-based Windy Hill Orchard was defunct, over-grown and undernourished, before it was bought by Todd and Scott Seeberger. Prior to embarking on the farming side of the business, the two brothers had spent their respective careers in IT and as an entrepreneur and owner of an apple brokerage. Inspired to take on a new venture, they set out with a mission — to acquire and revive an antiquated apple orchard through the embrace of innovation, creativity, and hard work.
Now in their fourth harvest since purchasing the land, modernizing the facilities, and meticulously pruning, fertilizing, picking, and storing – the farm has transformed into a healthy, sustainable orchard that grows exceptional quality fruit. Consider it a turning point in their business — today, Windy Hill produces a high percentage of valuable, retail-ready apples that demand postharvest protection to ensure return on the considerable operational investments that have elevated the orchard’s previous processer-first strategy.
While Windy Hill does have some Controlled Atmosphere capabilities, sealing-off and treating full rooms with 1-MCP fogging just doesn’t make sense for their seasonal operation. So, despite their many innovation efforts, the team at Windy Hill — like so many other medium-to-small sized growers — felt like they were out of treatment options and sidelined by a legacy 1-MCP fogging solution that can only accommodate larger growers and one workflow. This reality was hard to accept — they had to find a disruptive alternative.
In their research, Windy Hill team member, Cody Seeberger, came across an article about a Chicago-based AgTech company, Hazel Technologies, on LinkedIn. The article mentioned Hazel® and its partnerships with growers of all sizes across the US and how its product provides immediate, slow-release of 1-MCP-in-a-packet which allows growers to continuously protect and preserve the quality of their fruit without sealing a room, or fogging. With Hazel, Cody recognized that Windy Hill would be able to both treat their apples with 1-MCP and maintain the efficient workflows that worked best for their operation. Hazel’s product seemed to be the exact solution they were looking for.
“After engaging Hazel and having them visit our orchard, we’re really excited about the potential of our partnership and the impact it’s going to have on sustained quality and sales. We see Hazel as an innovator that can help us, but also a company that we identity with, as problem solvers who are always looking for better solutions to dated problems,” said Scott at Windy Hill.
“At Hazel, we talk a lot about ‘flexibility’ and this is the perfect example of a grower with a modern perspective, who has done everything right to be successful, yet feels confined by a 1-MCP technology that is too rigid and one dimensional to serve their specific business needs. When smaller, more creative operations like Windy Hill are empowered with the extra time and flexibility that Hazel 100 brings – they can do even more amazing things. We’re excited to see how this partnership can make a difference in their 2022-2023 business and beyond,” responds Hazel Technologies Account Executive, Joe Parker.
About Hazel Technologies, Inc.:
Hazel Technologies, Inc. is a USDA-funded startup company that develops new solutions to extend the quality shelf life of fresh produce and reduce food waste. Founded in 2015, Hazel Tech services over 300 of the world’s largest fresh produce packers, shippers, and retailers. Selected as a Finalist for Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas and winner of “Best Sustainable Packaging” at the 2020 World Food Innovation Awards, the company’s patented and patent-pending technologies have been tested by top academic research programs.
For more information, visit www.hazeltechnologies.com.
About Windy Hill Orchard:
Windy Hill Orchard is a family-owned and operated apple orchard located in the Hudson Valley Region of New York. Growing approximately 400 acres of apples, Windy Hill is a grower, packer and shipper, which delivers quality fruit up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest.